Impact of WW1

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War Years-1914-15

  • 1914
    • August
      • Schlieffen Plan begins through Belgium. Britain fights fiercely. Supplies struggle. stalemates near France. Trenches= slow progress. Plan failed
      • Burgfrieden (Enabling Act). National unity declared as shared suffering= politically united for good of country
  • 1915
    • war on 2 fronts. decide to concentrate more on East= pushed Russia back but didn''t defeat them. Little gains on Western front
    • troops also stretched across Asia and Africa
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War Years- 1916 Year of Attrition

  • decide on war of attrittion (Ermittlung)
  • no gains in France
  • July Somme= many casualties
  • Russia attack Austria= Germany have to send assistance
  • Hindenburg and Ludendorff apponted= reject peace, seek Total War, Russian defeat with harsh settlement and Germany to be rewarded with annexations
  • increasing instability at home 
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War Years- 1917 Year of Crisis

  • worsening domestic issues
  • unrestricted submarine warfare= attack neutral ships trading with allies (outrage USA)
  • April - USA join allies
  • less offensive strategies, more defensive
  • November- Bolshevik Revolution in Russia
  • Hollweg resigns after losing Reichstag and military support
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War Years- 1918 War and Peace

  • strikes in munitions factories
  • Treaty of Brest-Litovsk= gain land e.g. Poland, Ukraine, gain 3/4 Russia's coal, all its oil and cotton, 1/3 population. All of Reichstag except USPD vote in favour of Treaty
  • transfer of troops from East to West= pushes allies back but too exhausted
  • allies counter-attack and Germany pushed behind defensive lines= low morale
  • September- Ludendorff creates armistice talks
  • October- Prince Max of Baden appointed Chancellor and form coalition of SPD, Centre, Liberals
  • Kaiser prepared for constitutional reform= allow parliament to control military, Prussian reforms, Reichstag cabinet government
  • Ludendorff resigns, peace prospects spread= Kiel Sailors Mutiny November
  • Spartacist Revolution and Bavaria declared socialist
  • Kaiser resigns 10th November, SPD withraws support of Prince Max= Ebert Chancellor
  • ceasefire terms= withdraw from East of the Rhine, renounce Brest-Litovsk, demilitarise submarines
  • 11th November armistice signed
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Social Impact

  • few pacifists at start
  • 2 million dead, 6 million injured
  • living standards fell 30%
  • Soup kitchens set up. Queues for food= Polonaise. Calorie intake 1/2 of what's necessary. Shortages after blockades= Turnip winter 1917, starvation, worsen impact of Spanish Flu pandemic 1918
  • Ersatz goods= misery. Peasants hoard grain if didn't like price set
  • discontent - labourers rose after Auxiliary Labour Law (conscription)
  • Psychological damage and violence of losses
  • lack of labour, small profits for peasants (resent Junkers)
  • urban working class resent Jews
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Economic Impact

  • Total War= shuts down non-essential businesses
  • only 16% of £8.4 million cost of war met by taxes= 84% war bonds and printed money=inflation
  • 30% fall in real wages due to inflation. Mark declines 75%
  • Auxiliary Labour Law 1916- conscripted workers= lacking labourers and farmers, led to 1918 strikes
  • KRA- War Raw Materials Department- successful in supplying army
  • agriculture not mobilised effectively. War Food Office 1916 set up after blockades but no power to control private organisations
  • Junkers don't pay tax on war profits but lower classes suffer
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The Impact of Impending Defeat

  • strikes and uprisings such as the Kiel Sailors Mutiny
  • contributed to the outbreak of revolution
  • acceptance of stab in the back myth
  • came as a great shock to many
  • spread of socialism
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Initial Political Impact

  • Burgfrieden cause unification at start (political truce for survival e.g. unions promise not to strike) but didn't last long. Left wanted defensive war, Right want Siegfrieden (war of expansion and conquest). Breaks up over food shortages and casualties
  • diminishing support from left and centre= vote for peace resolution
  • Growing disunity- by 1917 USPD breaks from SPD, Spartacists form who want revolution, political scene became polarised by 1918
  • Silent Dictatorship of Ludendorff and Hindenburg= Kaiser sidelined, Hollweg forced out, puppet military government of Prince Max
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Revolution from above (29th Sept-30th Oct)

  • Kaiser realises defeat inevitable=constiutional reforms out of desperation, army and navy now accountable to Reichstag
  • Hindenburg and Ludendorff feel democratic govt. would be treated more leniently than authoritarian militaristic govt. in peace talks= Liberal Prince Max of Baden form new govt. of Liberals, Centre, Socialists
  • SPD largest party in new govt.
  • govt. has representatives of the lower classes
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Revolution from below (31st Oct-8th Nov)

  • people realise impending defeat = Kiel Mutiny, Soviets spring up, spread to other areas
  • riots in Ruhr, Berlin, Cologne= govt. lost control
  • ordinary germans involved in disturbances= popular revolution
  • rebels represent new radical form of political organisations= power passed to working classes
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Abdication and Republic Declared (9th Nov)

  • Hindenburg fears total revolution- advises Kaiser to abdicate
  • Kaiser flees to Holland
  • removal of unelected hereditary monarch and replaced with Ebert,  man of working class origin
  • aristocratic government replaced by government of working class representatives- SPD and USPD combined and with the SPD's Ebert's dominance (head of largest party in Reichstag)
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Armistice& Revolution contained (11thNov-Jan 1919)

  • new government sign armistice with allies
  • anti-communist Ebert determined to prevent civil war= Ebert Groener pact dealing with army to combat Bolshevism
  • early elections called for and held in Jan. Produced constituent assembly who created new constitution led by Hugo Pruess
  • Junkers remain dominant in civil service and judiciary and army remained unreformed
  • Soviets didn't get power
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